Grasmere Gingerbread

My Grandfather fought in WW1. He was in the Royal Artillery. Every Remembrance Sunday in the two minute silence I think of him in particular and all the other soldiers who fought in all our wars right up to the present day.   And every Remembrance Sunday I make this recipe for Grasmere Gingerbread that my mother wrote in our old family recipe book as it was a particular favourite of my Grandad and somehow by making it I feel as though I am bringing him into my home – and yes, the photo is of me on my grandfather’s knee

This recipe is made in a Victoria Sandwich tin  it makes a lovely chewy cookie style slice that disappears from the cake tin in record time even though my mother wrote at the end of the recipe “keeps three weeks”   Goodness knows how she knew that! The addition of crystallised ginger as well as the normal powdered spice gives it a lovely warmth and the raisins, though not necessary, give an added sweet richness   Best of all you can make the Gingerbread in the food processor in a matter of minutes before pressing it into a tin to bake! Continue reading

Home-made Christmas Mincemeat

Come October when the apples from my old Bramley apple tree in the garden are needing to be picked, I think of making Christmas pudding and mincemeat.  I do also think of apple pies, apple sauce, stewed apple with sultanas to have with yoghurt for breakfast but I think of mincemeat because it has become a tradition to use a home grown apple in the mincemeat and the pudding.  Whilst a bought apple  would be just as tasty – and indeed this home-made mincemeat is soooo much better than any you can buy – it’s nice to think that amongst all that plump dried fruit and exotic spices there is something that comes from my garden Continue reading

Aubergine and Sweet Potato Bake with Walnuts

I had my goddaughter staying and she was really keen to cut down on the amount of meat she was eating so during the 6 weeks she was here we tried lots of vegetarian and vegan food.  We weren’t interested in making ingredients look or taste like meat – we wanted to show off vegetables in their own right and it was really surprising to me how much I enjoyed them.  So much so in fact that I am still eating far less meat even though she has now gone home. 

I have cooked this now for quite a few meat eating friends and they have all asked for the recipe. I normally make it in individual portions using enamel pie tins and it can be made in advance and kept in the fridge or even frozen till you want to do the final oven cook so it is perfect for entertaining.  Please don’t be put off by the length of the recipe  it is actually very simple  
Continue reading

Stuffed Courgette Flowers

Unless you grow courgettes then you will probably find it difficult to get hold of courgette flowers.   If you do grow your own like me, you will probably be pulling your hair out right now as to how to keep up with all the courgettes that are appearing.   You turn your back one minute and they have morphed into marrows!!!   Its tough to know what grows fastest – courgettes or bindweed!!

And there are so many different types that together they look like a still life!   I prefer them when they are small, and I am definitely with the Italians on cooking and eating the flowers, or tearing the flowers into shreds and scattering over salads so nothing goes to waste.    

Anyway this weekend I was scratching my head as to what I could do with all the courgettes that keep on coming.   I have put them in with pasta, even made them an alternative to pasta by grating them into long strands and serving them with pasta sauce, baked them, eaten them as salads and given them away to everyone I can think of, but nothing so far that made them into a star ingredient in their own right. Until now!!!   After trawling through all my cookery books I took inspiration from some classic Italian recipes and tweaked them to accommodate what I had in the fridge Continue reading

Sticky Chicken with Pineapple and Cucumber Salad

 When you first read the title of this recipe you may find the idea of a pineapple and cucumber salad rather strange – but I promise you it really works and offsets the chicken which is cooked with soy, honey, ginger and chilli.    The pieces of chicken are really succulent and a great contrast to this refreshing simple salad.   I leave the core in on the pineapple when I dice it but you can take it out if you wish.  

In my student days in London, I lived next door to a malaysian girl and she used to make this all the time as it was easy to do in our tiny bedsits.   This is a really  quick recipe in terms of the time it takes you to put together and doesn,t need any fancy cooking equipment.  It is also a recipe that is easy to scale up or down.  

If you dont want to joint the chicken yourself I would get the packs of mixed chicken drumsticks and thighs that the supermarkets sell for about £3 – and you only need a small pineapple – preferably only just ripe or just under (which is just as well as that is all supermarkets seem to have on the shelves!). Continue reading

Baba Ganoush

Legend has it that this dip was invented by a member of the royal harem.   The arabic term means “pampered papa”!!  It is a wonderful smokey and creamy dip – charring of the aubergine skin adds the smokey taste that this dip is famous for.  Wonderful with the Rack of Lamb with North African Spices but see below  under Tips and Alternatives for other suggestions.

I always make this the night before to let flavours develop although this isn’t essential although it does help if you want to get ahead.  Continue reading

Rack of Lamb with North African Spices

Tender lamb marinated  (here we have used rack of lamb but see suggestions for other cuts under ingredients) the day before in fragrant, warming north african spices that everyone will love because there is no chilli heat.   Serve it with a wonderful smokey, creamy aubergine baba ganoush.

Continue reading

1 7 8